What sort of communicator are you?
If you find it hard or feel guilty about expressing your view point or feel angry and lose your temper when others disagree with you then you may be a non-assertive communicator.
Lacking assertiveness skills, non-assertive communicators may be passive and submit to the dominance of others or they may be aggressive and dominate social interactions.
Often aggression and dominance is what people think of when they think about assertiveness, but assertiveness is not about this.
What is assertiveness?
Assertiveness is about feeling able to express your view point and feelings in an open and honest way as well as listening respectfully to the views and feelings of others.
An assertive communicator will feel able to say 'no' to the unfair demands of others without feeling guilty or anxious. This may sound easy, but expressing your viewpoint without bullying and dominating others and without feeling guilty later is a skill that many lack.
Tips for becoming more assertive
There are plenty of things you can do to become more assertive.
- Take a course or join a local group: Practice is vital and a local group or training course will be able to help set you on the right path.
- Watch your body language: Our bodies often send out messages about us without us being aware, so learning to stand up straight, walk with confidence and to make and maintain eye contact are all good ways of feeling and showing you are more in control, which in turn can help you stay calm and feel more assertive.
- Role play: Practise going through difficult situations with a friend and remember to swap roles so you can see both perspectives.
- Take time to reflect before reacting: Often when a situation is stressful or we feel put on the spot, we react without thinking. Consciously try to take a step back, take a deep breath and reflect on what you are going to say before speaking. Over time this will become easier to do without thinking about it.
- Don't give up on your message: Be ready to repeat your message if you feel it is being dismissed or ignored.
First Psychology Scotland is running a four week course 'Assertive Skills For Women' in Edinburgh, starting on 13 May 2015. If you are interested in taking part or finding out more, click here for further details of Assertiveness Skills For Women.